Duluth

Deployed Guard members ran 5K, just not in Duluth

Dozens of deployed members of the Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard ran a 5K remotely as part of the Grandma’s Marathon series this year.

The military members ran the equivalent of the William A. Irvin 5K last weekend and got the same finisher shirts, socks and medals that local runners will get on the North Shore after completing races next weekend.

“It’s the least we can do for their service,” said Grandma’s Marathon Executive Director Shane Bauer. “They support us, we support them. It’s a huge asset to our community to have the 148th here. They’re a big part of Duluth.”

For many years, the 148th supported Grandma’s Marathon with F-16 flyovers at the start of the 26.2-mile race.

Pam Louwagie

St. Peter

Motel to be converted to homeless shelter

A Christian ministry has purchased a motel on the city’s north end and last week turned over ownership to a local nonprofit that plans to convert it into a homeless shelter.

The St. Peter Motel, at 221 Union St., will continue to rent out rooms for now as Mankato-based Partners for Affordable Housing raises the money necessary to convert it, said the organization’s executive director, Jen Theneman.

She said the organization hopes to have $80,000 in donations and grants by year’s end before starting the renovations.

Unlike an overnight shelter where people must check out in the morning, the new St. Peter shelter will allow residents to stay up to 90 days as they address work or family problems without the constant worry of finding a place to sleep.

The motel has 13 rooms. Theneman said she could see converting one of them into an office and another area into a community gathering space with a kitchen and space for a computer desk.

The new shelter will help 25 to 30 people at a time, she said.

It’s the first location outside of Mankato for Partners for Affordable Housing. The 34-year-old organization has two adjacent houses in Mankato, with a total of 34 beds.

The nonprofit also owns 32 living units, from houses to apartments, that it rents out at affordable rates in Mankato.

The need for affordable housing has been acute around the region, said Theneman. Her organization gets 10 to 20 calls a day from people looking for housing.

“In Mankato we cannot meet the need by any stretch,” she said.

The ministry that purchased the St. Peter Motel — before immediately donating it for the purposes of creating a homeless shelter — wants to remain anonymous, said Theneman.

A similar effort in Rochester saw a church there last year pledge to create affordable housing in a bid to fight a mushrooming housing crisis in that city.

Theneman said the low unemployment rate in Mankato means plenty of minimum wage jobs and others that pay up to $15 an hour are available, but people still struggle to find housing on that salary, she said.

Matt McKinney